Kim O'Brien: A Relationship of Convenience—until it became a Romance
A faux relationship in the scenic Black Hills of South Dakota gives a whole new meaning to “if you love something then let it go.” Readers will get lost in this destination novel by accomplished author Kim O’Brien. Millie Hogan and David Denvers both have big problems in small town Deer Park, South Dakota. Millie—a waitress with designs on Hollywood—has a mother who keeps setting her up on disastrous blind dates, even though Millie’s never met a man she could trust. David—a widowed dentist with an almost-teenaged son and opinionated parents—is being stalked by an amorous former patient. So when a lost filling lands Millie in David’s office, the two of them cook up a plan—a fake relationship. No one gets hurt, and no one gets nagged. It’s a great plan—until they really start to care. Now what will they do?
Q: A Wedding Blunder in the Black Hills is a destination romance novel. This is a popular genre right now. What makes yours stand out from all the rest?
I didn’t set out to write a destination romance novel, but I did fall in love with the Black Hills. They’re not only beautiful and striking, but also so rich in history. In my novel, however, Millie, the main character, has grown up in a small town nestled in the Black Hills, and because they are so familiar to her, she can no longer see their beauty or appreciate the way everyone in town knows each other. She feels lonely, undervalued and trapped. More than anything, she wants to go to Hollywood and become a reality television star. I hope what makes this book stand out from others in its genre is that beneath the humor and quirky cast of characters is a greater truth about the nature of relationships and the universal desire to do something worthwhile with our lives.
Q: What research did you have to do on the destinations featured in A Wedding Blunder in the Black Hills?
I was an arm chair traveler for the most part. There are many wonderful websites that feature the ski hills, landscape, and history of the Black Hills. I also spent time in our library and drew on my own small town roots. I grew up in a village that was exactly one square mile in size. We walked everywhere—to school, to the downtown area, to friend’s houses, to church. We even had a small bakery with glass cases filled with every kind of
cake and cookie possible. I can still remember stepping into the store and smelling warm, fresh pastries. Yum!
Q: David and Millie’s is a relationship of convenience that blossoms into an actual romance. What details are used in the book to help readers pick up on this change?
Without giving away too much, the romance grows as David and Millie begin building a cardboard sled for David’s son to race in the town’s annual snow carnival. As they spend more time together, their attraction builds. The romance really gets going when they both realize how much fun they have around each other. It’s truly the story of people starting off as friends and then discovering there’s much more.
Q: Pretending to have a romantic relationship sounds like there could be some funny moments. Will readers come across any comedic situations?
I hope so! I love to look for humor wherever I can find it—so the book is full of quirky, characters and pretend dates that don’t go as planned. Watch for the moose.
Q: Did you use any personal incidents for your plot in A Wedding Blunder in the Black Hills?
There’s a scene in the book when Bart, David’s son, tells the story of how his father -- a terrible cook -- accidentally blew up a grill. This actually happened to us in New Jersey. We had just bought a new house and invited both sets of families to come to a barbeque. The previous owners had left their propane grill and when my husband turned it on, there was a whooshing noise and then it burst into flames. After we put it out, we hooked up our grill -- which had been in storage during the move. My husband turned it on and the grill made the same whooshing noise and caught fire. After that, we broiled the chicken in the oven. My husband took a lot of razzing—but it gave both sides of the family something to talk about.
Q: Authors sometimes put a little piece of themselves into a character, whether it is a character trait, sense of humor, or a hobby. Can readers find something like this with any of your characters?
I guess all my characters have a little bit of me. Millie has my quirky mix of big dreams and insecurities. Eva has my desire to stay close to my kids. Aris has my insatiable curiosity, and David has my faith that God loves us.
Q: What character do you think readers are going to be able to really relate to?
I am hoping they’ll relate to Millie, who struggles hard to see her own value. I think all too often when we look in the mirror, we see our faults magnified. I know I do. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves and our achievements to that of others, like Millie does. Millie overcomes her insecurities only when she turns to God and accepts that He loves her exactly as he made her.
Q: If you could sum your book up in three words what would they be?
Happily ever after.
Q: What is the ultimate dream you want to conquer with your writing?
A couple of years ago, I received the sweetest letter from a woman who was living with chronic pain. She wrote that when she read my book, The Pastor’s Assignment, she laughed so hard that she forgot about her pain. Her words encouraged me greatly and helped me see my writing as a possible means of bringing faith, love, and laughter into people’s lives. Whenever I start dreaming about achieving success with my writing, I remind myself of that letter, and that if I touch one person’s life in a good way, that’s better than selling a huge number of books.
Q: Do you have any future projects in the making?
Yes! I’m working on another contemporary romance. This one is set in Sweetwater, Texas, and is the story of a middle-aged wife who strives to put the romance back in her marriage. With the help of her friends, she decides to integrate the biblical principles outlined in Proverbs 31 into her life and become “A Truly Excellent Wife.” Things don’t go as planned, and soon Sylvia begins to wonder if she can find enough faith and Ingenuity to save her marriage.